A hand drill is one of the oldest and simplest methods of starting a fire. A hand drill works by creating heat through friction, thus creating an ember that can then be used to start a fire. It’s best suited for fire starting in dry climates.
Before attempting to use the hand drill, you want to make sure you have a good amount of tinder. One of the most important parts of any friction fire-starting method is the type of tinder you use to turn the ember into a flame.
Your tinder bundle should be made up of stringy, fluffy, and combustible materials like dry grass, wood shavings, cattails, bark fibers, and punkwood. Once you have the tinder materials, make sure to fluff them up and create as much surface area as possible for the ember to ignite.
Follow these steps to use the Hand Drill Method
- Make sure you have a tinder bundle prepared and ready to go.
- Cut a V-shaped notch in a board, then start a small depression with your knife tip. Set a piece of bark, or a big leaf underneath the notch to catch your ember.
- Place the spindle, which should be about two feet in length, in the depression. Then, while maintaining a good amount of downward pressure, roll the stick between the palms of your hands, running them very quickly down the stick.
- Keep doing this until the spindle tip glows red and you get an ember.
- Tap the board to get the ember onto your leaf or piece of bark, then transfer it over to your tinder bundle and blow into the bundle until you get a flame.
If you have a hard time with this method, or your hands start to ache, a bow drill can be used in the same fashion. Check out our instructions for building and using a bow drill.